A Comedy Mecca, Unique Museum Experience, and Spencer Hotel Special
Since opening its doors in 2018, the National Comedy Center has quickly become a beloved institution and destination for comedy lovers from across the globe. Time Magazine called it “one of the world’s greatest places,” while USA Today deemed it the “best new museum in the country,” shining a light on their 38,000 square foot space filled with creative, entertaining, interactive, and educational exhibits.
Whether you’re a devout fan of comedy or just looking to learn more about the fascinating history of the art form, you’ll come away from the unique experience filled with laughter and inspiration. And the museum is just down the road from our Chautauqua bed and breakfast on the lower end of the lake, a scenic 25-minute drive away along the waterfront.
It’s a must-do day trip during your getaway to the Spencer, and our “Laugh Your Cares Away” package includes a two-night stay, two tickets to the Comedy Center, and a chilled bottle of wine. Share laughs and memorable moments, explore comedy together and unwind while sipping delicious wine in our beautiful corner of western New York.
Jamestown’s Comedic Roots and What You’ll See at the Museums
As the hometown of Lucille Ball and the Lucy & Desi Museum, Jamestown already had a reputation within the comedy world, which has only grown by leaps and bounds since the Comedy Center came to fruition after a decade of planning. Both museums are within a few blocks from each other and easy to incorporate into one trip – the Lucy & Desi Museum focuses exclusively on the “first couple” of comedy and their groundbreaking influence on the culture of the time (in addition to I Love Lucy being the first comedy to hit #1 and the first portrayal of an interracial couple on TV, Ball went on to be the first woman studio head in LA).
The Comedy Center has a broader focus, tracing the roots of comedy back to Shakespeare up through early silent films, the various eras of stand-up, the cultural force of late-night TV shows, and comedy’s imprint on TV and movies throughout the decades. In a unique twist, every visitor takes a quiz upon entering, developing a “comedy profile” depending on your interests, guiding your experience as you move from exhibit to exhibit (which number over 50). It’s a brilliant way to personalize the experience – as if you visited an art museum and the pieces on the wall shuffled according to your artistic whims.
Everything is also interactive, rare for a museum, so instead of just looking at George Carlin’s joke notebook, you see him performing those same jokes on a screen, bringing the artifact to life. You can hop on stage in the comedy karaoke room and perform your favorite bits. And in the stand-up lounge, a group watches stand-up routines together while rating them in real time and steering the course of the show.
Plan Your Visit – A Perfect Day Trip to the National Comedy Center and Other Museums
With so much to explore, spend an afternoon visiting one or both comedy museums in Jamestown. They are closed on Wednesdays but open from 10 am to 5 pm on the other days, with weekends bringing bigger crowds. Check their website for rotating special exhibits, like the current Johnny Carson Immersive Experience, which features wrap-around screens showing classic Carson show clips and a hologram of Jimmy Fallon hosting, merging the past with the modern.
After your museum visit, stop at 59 Lucy Lane, near the water in downtown Jamestown and once the childhood home of Lucille Ball, followed by an upscale steak dinner at the Chop House on Main or traditional Mexican plates at El Jarocho, within walking distance of both museums.
Explore our luxury Chautauqua accommodations and enjoy our literary-themed rooms to infuse the comedy experience into your stay. Pay homage to Shakespeare in Room 402, whose Midsummer Night’s Dream and other comedies set the highest standard for comedic brilliance. Or stay in Room 108, dedicated to PG Wodehouse, whose ninety books overflow with inventive wordplay and social satire. And Room 109 is inspired by Dorothy Parker, queen of the bon mot and fierce wit.